Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Cycling and specialization.
  2. Some old Hebrew text.
  3. Bad ideas, I’d argue however that dignity not rights are the location of the flaw.
  4. Ahead of the curve?
  5. Standing against the nanny state.
  6. Congress and healthcare and the question of Constitutionality. Of course it’s not Constitutional … but do you think they care? 
  7. When cyclists run.
  8. Blogging and the truth to power theme.
  9. Climate, and a measurement making the rounds (another here). Say this is right, and the next 30 years are part of a global cooling trend … why or why not does that not affect AGW/GW’s plausibility?
  10. It remains hard for politicians (and bloggers apparently) to admit that entitlements are the problem. 
  11. A question, if you don’t believe race is a proper characterization of man … are you and can you be a racist? (Assuming that your beliefs translate properly to normative practice)

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17 comments

  1. Boonton says:

    Congress and healthcare and the question of Constitutionality. Of course it’s not Constitutional … but do you think they care?

    Actually I don’t see how a mandate wouldn’t be Constitutional. Per head taxes are Constitutional. Tax deductions are constitution. Take a ‘per head’ tax and allow people to deduct health coverage from it and tada you got a Constituitonal mandate.

  2. It remains hard for politicians (and bloggers apparently) to admit that entitlements are the problem.

    Republicans make that claim all the time. What I want to know is why nobody in either party (save a few exceptions like Paul and Kucinich) will mention the fact that we could save hundreds of billions a year by just ending unnecessary wars, closing unnecessary bases, and basically contracting military spending until it’s not INSANE.

    We’re spending more than twice as much as the rest of the world on the military and you think entitlements are the problem. Well, entitlements cost a lot, but they also provide a lot of benefits. The military, with a few notable exceptions, not only doesn’t provide benefits, but actively destroys wealth.

    But that’s the issue no politician with a chance of winning can touch.

  3. Mark says:

    JA,
    That’s because we’re not innumerate. Looking here for example, one sees that approximately 75% of the budget is taken by four big items which are roughly comparable, health, SS, defence, and employment. Three of the four are (arguably) un-Constitutional and the fourth is a Constitutional mandate. Isolationism worked so well, in the 30s … more unlearned lessons from the 20th century perhaps are needed for those on the left.

  4. You May Not Be a Racist, But Your Logic Needs Work…

    Dafydd (via) can prove he’s not a racist: […] It is absolutely true that skin color and morphology are not determinate of behavior or ideology. But it is absolutely false to say that one must hold a belief in such determinism in order to be racis……

  5. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    By that logic, if I offer an 100% income tax on all homeowner … to be rebated if they sign a document signing their repudiation of the full bill of rights. Tada Constitutional loophole.

    Strictly speaking income taxes being Constitutional or not was in the early 20th century a matter of some heated debate.

    A mandate for all citizens to purchase anything would not have been seen by the founders as Constitutional. I don’t think that’s at all controversial. Whether or not this current court will agree that requring healthcare is Constitutional or not is another question.

  6. That’s because we’re not innumerate. Looking here for example, one sees that approximately 75% of the budget is taken by four big items which are roughly comparable, health, SS, defence, and employment.

    Right. And which one of those 4 things should be used in any significant way more than once a generation or so, if that often? There are always sick people and there are always old and disabled people. We could cut our military by 80% without significantly increasing the risk to American lives or (non-military) business. Hell, we’d probably decrease the risk by making it harder to start wars and offering fewer motives to the relatives of those we kill.

    Isolationism worked so well, in the 30s … more unlearned lessons from the 20th century perhaps are needed for those on the left.

    Holy false dichotomy, Batman! You don’t see any room between isolationism and spending twice as much as the rest of the world COMBINED?!?!

    Don’t pretend that I oppose wars of necessity like WWII when you know I’m thinking of Vietnam, Iraq, and much of the Afghanistan war.

  7. Boonton says:

    By that logic, if I offer an 100% income tax on all homeowner … to be rebated if they sign a document signing their repudiation of the full bill of rights. Tada Constitutional loophole.

    Except the Bill of Rights is in the Constition. A right to insist on being uninsured isn’t.

    Strictly speaking income taxes being Constitutional or not was in the early 20th century a matter of some heated debate.

    You may be unaware that income tax is Constitutional via a specific amendment that was enacted after the Civil War.

    A mandate for all citizens to purchase anything would not have been seen by the founders as Constitutional. I don’t think that’s at all controversial.

    Contrary to the belief of some, the Founders did not consider Constituionality to be determined by future generations trying to guess which policies they would have adopted.

  8. Boonton says:

    Marginal Revolution has this very intereting alternative to a ‘tax’ as the basis of the mandate. I don’t think you can challenge the Constitutionality of this variation:

    If Democrats want to avoid this headache, they could follow the recommendation of my American Prospect colleague Paul Starr. Instead of fining those who go without insurance, Starr has proposed that “For five years they would become ineligible for federal subsidies for health insurance and, if they did buy coverage, no insurer would have to cover a pre-existing condition of theirs.” They would not be fined for avoiding the new system, but neither could they benefit from or exploit it. This period of ineligibility, Starr adds, “deters opportunistic switches in and out of the public funds, and it helps to prevent the private insurers from cherry-picking healthy people and driving up

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/01/if-only-we-had-the-stomach-for-this.html

  9. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    That’s right, there is a process for Amendment. And if you want to have a universal requirement for healthcare … then pass an amendment for it, otherwise it’s un-Constitutional.

  10. Boonton says:

    The income tax was approved with a constitutional amendment so I’m not sure why you are raising the fact that its constitutionality was a subject of debate in the 19th century. Whatever the merits of that debate it is now moot with the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913.

    A ‘head tax’ or poll tax was actually part of the original constitution and never repealed by amendment. Congress could, therefore, enact a $1000 tax on all individuals and combine it with a $1000 income tax credit for all who purchase health insurance.

    Your counter argument of a 100% income tax combined with a credit for those who would waive their protections under the Bill of Rights is weak. “Not buying health coverage” is not part of the Bill of Rights and would not be viewed the same as, say, a $1000 head tax with a credit for those who waive their rights against unreasonable searches.

  11. Mark says:

    Boonton,

    A right to insist on being uninsured isn’t.

    Uhm, that would in fact be the 10th. “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The right mandate the purchase of insurance for healthcare is not a power so delegated.

  12. Boonton says:

    OK so that translates into a ‘right not to buy health insurance’ via what then? Your imagination?

  13. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    That’s what “reserved for the states and people” means. If it is not called out in the Constitution, the Feds don’t have a right to do it.

  14. Boonton says:

    The power to tax both by person and by income is called out in the Constitution. So now where will you go?

  15. Boonton says:

    Also

    http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2009/09/that-horse-it-left-the-stable-long-ago-we-called-him-seabiscuit/#more-8927

    Basically, a mandate is quite Constitutional under interstate commerce unless you want to ditch maybe the last 75 years of precedents. Also it’s Constitutional under the power of taxation (which is actually what the mandate currently is in the proposed bill since no actual criminal penalties are proposed for those who don’t buy insurance), even if you do want to ditch the last 75 years.

    and

    http://www.ordinary-gentlemen.com/2009/12/taxes-where-political-and-constitutional-expediency-collide/ Baically the mandate as now written is a tax well within Congress’s Constitutional power without even touching Interstate Commerce….which it is too.

  16. Mark says:

    Boonton,
    Apparently I’m not alone in thinking the Constitution has some issues with Obama-care.

    Let’s see if I follow the argument so far.
    * You suggest that the power to tax provides a loophole to do an end around on the powers required to enact requirements for healthcare.
    * I suggest that proposing a tax to negate Constitutional protections isn’t really a good idea (the tax to sign off on Constitutional protections).
    * So, I counter this is just the same. The purpose for which the loophole is being used in the Constitutional authority so using income tax as a bludgeon is not kosher just as in the prior example.
    * So … moving along you suggest “interstate commerce” gives the right. To quote Mr Will, “Unless the commerce clause is infinitely elastic — in which case, Congress can do anything — it does not authorize Congress to forbid the inactivity of not making a commercial transaction, of not purchasing a product (health insurance) from a private provider.” You then return to the tax point … returning to that which was rebutted already.

    Next?

  17. Boonton says:

    The only problem here is you have no ‘right to not have insurance’ in the Constitution. By your logic having a charitable deduction in the tax code is unconstitutional since there certainly must be a right to ‘not donate to charity’ in there as well.

    The interstate commerce clause need not be infinitely elastic to mandate insurance…esp. considering that the clause is elastic enough to mandate Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (see previous point about nuking out the last 75 years of precedent)…..or for that matter the recent case regarding medical marijuana which held Federal law superseded state laws permitting it because even if states insisted that only locally grown pot be permitted it would still indirectly impact ‘interstate commerce’ in pot. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.